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 Harriette Joffe  (1935 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut      Known for: Figural, Abstract

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Harriette Pitcheon is primarily known as Harriette Joffe

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Biography from Art Link International:
Harriette Joffe has been painting, working in various media, and exhibiting in galleries and museums for over 50 years.  Her career spans from formative years in the post-World War II years of the avant-garde Abstract Expressionist movement of New York.

Born into a prosperous family that was deeply committed to artistic expression, she attended Rhode Island School of Design in the mid-1950s.  Embraced by the first generation of Abstract Expressionists in New York City and the East End of Long Island, she was deeply involved in the New York School of painting from her earliest years as an artist.  

By the early 1970s, Joffe was exhibiting work and maintaining social and professional contact with Willem and Elaine DeKooning, Lee Krasner, the Lassaws, Miriam Shapiro, Audrey Flack and many others in the Hamptons.  She also maintained a residence in fishing village of Montauk, where art world personalities such as Andy Warhol, Peter Beard, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger also lived.  From this early period forward, Joffe had solo exhibitions at Vered Gallery, Bologna/Lani Gallery, and showed at the Guild Hall Museum Annual Juried Exhibition, and the Springs Invitational Exhibition at Ashawagh Hall in East Hampton; Tower Gallery in Southampton; the groundbreaking DUMBO-based Brooklyn Waterfront Artists show; Steven Rosenberg Gallery in New York City, and other venues nationally.

Joffe’s work during this period ranged from pure geometric abstraction, to figurative and figurative-abstraction, mirroring, especially, the creative journey of the deKoonings.  Joffe, however, always forged her own pathway, often reflecting the more American themes of a beneficent and inspiring natural world, and the optimistic possibility of renewal than many of her European-born counterparts.  Her work during this period was of characterized by vibrant earth tones and the bright colors of the sky. She worked in oil, acrylic, and water color, charcoals, and progressed into mixed media that melding photographic techniques with complexly-layered monoprints.  She also embraced bees-wax-based encaustics at a time when only a few modern artists (including Jasper Johns) were using them.

One of the pioneer DUMBO artists, she maintained a studio under the Brooklyn Bridge, working alongside the then emerging avant-garde of New York in the mid- to late-1970s.  Although she worked comfortably in the rebellious milieu of that era, staging performance pieces, for example, she broke with many of her contemporaries and began a systematic examination of Renaissance, Classical, and neo-Classical European painting.  Thus while artists in the New York scene were more apt to be embracing video art and popular cultural ritual, she traveled extensively in Europe, studying Rubens and Titian.

During this period, natural forces, flux, and the passage of time became important themes in her work. Returning to the US, she began a long period of exploring ancient American civilizations, traveling in Mexico, and living for a time in the Southwest.  Joffe also uniquely explored the phenomenon of the Spanish Sephardic conversos and their Diaspora into the Americas, creating a lexicon of Crypto-Judaica and related Hebraic-mythical-based work. She exhibited nationally in galleries and museums, showing alongside artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Eric Fischel, Linda Benglis, April Gornick, Larry Rivers, and Jackie Windsor, for example.  Critics during this period often referred to both her roots in the New York School, her nomination into the American Academy of Arts and Letters by the influential sculptor Ibram Lassaw, and her powerful style.  Phyllis Braff, writing in the New York Times in 1987, characterized Joffe’s work as “a tumultuous rush of loose lines… high pitched fiery colors that give the feel of heat and pressure.”

Joffe’s work has continued to evolve into the 21st century.  She is currently working on a series of water color on translucent Mylar.  Called the Housatonic series, and reminiscent of her experimental Abstract Expressionist roots, she manipulates color, form, and surface, melding figure, symbol, and abstract gesture, sanding and polishing surfaces, painting and repainting as she again reveals the depths of surface in painting once again.

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